Writing creatively can be very therapeutic. Research has shown that oral and written storytelling can enrich our spiritual and cultural lives and help us heal from past traumas and abuse. Sometimes people write their own life narrative and their writing is autobiographical in nature. Writing about daily experiences, that is, writing rooted in one’s own journey, sounds and is authentic and can be transformative. For others, writing is a form of escape a bit of respite from daily struggles. It allows a safe, fantastical space to express the hidden and forbidden. A chance to play with different personas, explore different gender roles, engage with new and unusual ways of being. It can add colour to a seemingly dull day, a brightness that shifts the mood and alters perspective.
So I have been writing therapeutically for years, expressing myself in riddles and rhymes, hiding difficult thoughts, feelings and emotions in my own secret code on the page. It helps get things out of my head and onto the paper in a very real and tangible way, without fear of judgement or recrimination.
Writing is a form of mindfulness and meditation for me, an opportunity to reflect on my journey. It gives me something to look back on. I have my own historical archive stored away for me to revisit past feelings, times, and people now gone. The rawness of emotion loses its tang over time, even the most bitter pill is easier to swallow the second time around. I sometimes rehearse difficult conversations in writing, so when I am finally ready to speak it sounds much more self-assured. The preparedness is a comfort.
Writing supports my emotional well-being and nourishes my soul. At times it is like a craft, I work like a knitter, and occasionally drop a stitch and sometimes, just sometimes I am content with the end project. Other times, I am like an enraged artist, splashing words and colours wantonly, angrily and violently around until they release the stress and tension I’m feeling. Other times, I am childlike playing with the syntax, watching text bounce off the walls like a distant echo.
Slowly, but surely, I have been developing the confidence to share that experience with others. It is not easy, the worry that it might offend, or not be ‘good enough’ is ever present. I try to ignore it. Sharing more of myself when I feel able online builds confidence. Frequency helps. Writing all the time makes me less precious about it. It becomes just something that I do, chitter chattering away to myself, gives me the time to process the thoughts in a less intrusive way. Receiving feedback from others spurs me on to write more, little and often, tapping away on my computer or on my phone, sometimes with a pen and a notepad, rarely with coffee.
It’s been important for me to set aside a time and a place to write, but invariably I end up with the urge to write at the most inopportune times. So, I write when I’m talking to people, I write locked away. I write in public spaces. I write in private spaces. It has become as natural as speaking as vital as breathing and quintessentially me. I am a writer and it’s taken me a long time to admit that to myself and others.
It was important for me to find my own voice and develop the confidence in expressing myself in writing when speaking up and out was hard if not impossible to do. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
It is hard to believe you can stand in front of a class one minute teaching, and be gripped with social anxiety the next, Rebecca has experienced both.She urges others to recognise that sometimes outward confidence hides hidden struggles. She has had many and varied roles but she still can’t shake the belief that she’s not good enough. She is learning to speak up and out more about social anxiety and share her experience with others through writing, coaching and counselling.